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Gaumont Film Night

gaumont_event02The Friends of Dog Kennel Hill Wood held their first major public event on the evening of 30th August 2014. About 400 people turned up to watch fourteen early Gaumont films that were filmed between 1904 – 1912. The studio was located on the Green Dale where it meets Dog Kennel Hill Wood.

The setting up began around 5:30pm with a team of stewards erecting temporary fencing around the edges of the park to prevent any hedge trampling. The volunteers then checked the area for any litter or sharp objects and decorated it with lanterns. The Free Film Festival crew arrived and set up their large outdoor screen and projector. Luckily the rain threatened to make an appearance but then stayed away.

The Gaumont Comes Home evening began with an impromptu DJ set from Lord Ant B spinning his 78″ records on two wind-up gramophones. People began arriving and setting up their chairs and laying out their picnics, readying themselves for the evening ahead.

First there was an introduction to local history during the Edwardian era by William who was dressed in an Edwardian style complete with bowler hat. Then Jasia introduced the first film: “Adventures of a Roll of Lino”. The film rolled and pianist Neil brand accompanied the action on-screen despite having never seen the films before! His fantastic piano accompaniment brought the films to life in a way that hadn’t happened since they were released 110 years ago.

From then on each film was introduced by a short on-screen presentation that explained related facts about film history or pointed out the locations with equivalent current-day photos.

After two hours the evening drew to an end. Everyone who had contributed to the event was thanked (see below) and the audience were encouraged to go to the bar at Dulwich Hamlet football club.

The evening was a great success and enjoyed by many:

Amazing night of film culture laid on by @friendsdkhwood – who’d have known Camberwell was the early 1900’s Hollywood

So many people have told me they found Gaumont Comes Home at Dogkennelhillywood a most magic lantern moment.

Thank-you for organising such a splendid, well researched and fun evening. I live locally and came along at the last minute- I didn’t expect to be at such a fascinating event. I loved the screen shots juxtaposed with contemporary Camberwell and finding out about the nature of the film industry at that time.

I love community and I love history, and on Saturday it felt like we had a deep bath in both. Nothing but positive vibes…

Tonight’s film screening was a wonderful experience, thanks to everyone for such a well-choreographed event.  I think it will live in the memories of those who attended for a very long time.

We had several articles written up about the event both before and after. Here are two that are online:

Our thanks go to:
Tony Fletcher from the Cinema Museum (whose immense generosity of time, knowledge and enthusiasm meant the event took place. We couldn’t have done it without him)
Southwark Community Council
BFI (Bryony Dixon, Peter Fydler, Tony Dykes)
Anonymous donor (whose unquestioning donation early on meant we could devote more time to research and organising rather than fundraising)
The Camberwell Society
The Dulwich Society
The stewards (who have given up their time to make sure things ran smoothly)
Bob Geoghean (for lending us the sound disk and support early on)
Neil Johns from the Free Film Festivals
Dulwich Hamlet FC (for agreeing to being the wet weather plan)
Neil Brand
Barry Anthony
Sainsburys for gift vouchers to spend on refreshments for the stewards and other kit



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